Monday, September 28, 2009


Preserving One's Honor in Retreat

John Dooley, Private, 1st Virginia, on the flight from Bloody Lane at Antietam, quoted in Geoffrey C. Ward et al., The Civil War: An Illustrated History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 160:
Oh, how I ran! I was afraid of being struck in the back, so I frequently turned around in running, so as to avoid if possible so disgraceful a wound.
Tyrtaeus 11.17-20 (tr. J.M. Edmonds):
For pleasant it is in dreadful warfare to pierce the midriff of a flying man, and disgraced is the dead that lieth in the dust with a spear-point in his back.

ἀργαλέον γὰρ ὄπισθε μετάφρενόν ἐστι δαΐζειν
  ἀνδρὸς φεύγοντος δηίῳ ἐν πολέμῳ·
αἰσχρὸς δ' ἐστὶ νέκυς κατακείμενος ἐν κονίῃσι
  νῶτον ὄπισθ' αἰχμῇ δουρὸς ἐληλάμενος.
Cf. also Diomedes urging the Greeks to retreat in Homer, Iliad 6.605-6 (tr. A.T. Murray):
But with faces turned toward the Trojans give ye ground ever backwards...

ἀλλὰ πρὸς Τρῶας τετραμμένοι αἰὲν ὀπίσσω
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